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Exhumed Films 24-Hour Horror-Thon! Print E-mail
Written by Thomas Mates   
Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Recently, there’s been a decline in the number of horror movies on the big screen.  But Philadelphians who still love fake blood have Exhumed Films. Exhumed puts together screenings of classic horror and grindhouse films using 35mm and 16mm prints, not DVDs.  Some of the films Exhumed has screened include horror classics like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 and John Carpenters The Thing. Exhumed Films was founded in 1997 in Blackwood, NJ, by “Four jerks who sort of were friendly with each other (and) wanted to see if we could show two films at a theater,” said Joseph Gervasi, 38, Exhumed Films co-founder with  Dan Fraga, Harry Guerro, and Jesse Nelson.

“We procured these two film prints, these 35mm prints, and we figured, at worst, we’d be watching these two movies by ourselves, and at best, maybe a few people would come out,” recalled Gervasi.  To the group’s surprise many people did show up to their event.

“We didn’t really have the mass penetration of the internet,” he said. “We didn’t really have that resource to get the word out.”

Exhumed Films has gone through several theaters for screenings.

“They’ve all [the theaters] just successively closed down around our feet,” said Gervasi.  Exhumed Films currently calls the International House, located at 3701 Chestnut St. in Philadelphia, home.  It’s a real step-up.

According to Gervasi some of their previous venues were “dilapidated, and they had bugs and rats running around.”

Though Exhumed has a great ongoing relationship with International House, it is difficult to do monthly events there, because of the theater’s other commitments and bookings.  However, Exhumed still manages to hold double features there, “about every other month or so.”

They also conduct a once-a-year, 24-hour horror marathon.  Now entering its third year, the marathon allows Exhumed to showcase some of their rarest prints.  “Many of the prints come from the collection of one of the group members, Harry Guerro,” said Gervasi.

Guerro is part of a network of print collectors and traders, which include people such as Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.  “Whatever he doesn’t personally own, may be owned by Exhumed Films, or he would be able to trade with other people to borrow the prints to run,” continued Gervasi.  The network in which Guerro does his trading allows Exhumed access to several rare prints from around the world.

Some of the films shown at the 24-hour event may never end up being screened outside the context of the marathon.  This is because of the films’ levels of obscurity.  Were they to be put into one of Exhumed’s regular events, they more than likely would not be able to stand on their own merits.

“If we put them into our 24-hour show, where people don’t even know what they’re (going to be) seeing, because we never ever announce what the films are going to be… then people … wind up seeing something that they wouldn’t normally  gravitate towards.”

The reason for not allowing the audience to know in advance the titles of the films is both a practical, and helps add to the fun of the occasion.

“I think if the people knew what they were seeing they would pick and choose and chart when they were going to be there,” explained Gervasi.  “It creates a sense of excitement where you have no idea what you’re going to see.”

In addition to several feature length movies, there are also several shorts and trailers between films.  The lack of advance knowledge also prevents the audience from missing out on some of these smaller gems.

“Hopefully you [the audience] trust us well enough to allow yourself to be surprised by what we’re going to screen to you,” continued Gervasi.

This year’s 24-hour marathon is on Oct. 24 and 25.  Tickets for the event are on sale at  Tickets are $25 each.

Though Exhumed Films does charge for their events, the founders do not take any profits.  Gervasi and Nelson own a for profit side business, Diabolik DVD, which always has a stand at Exhumed screenings to sell DVDs.

Any money made by Exhumed goes into a kitty used for buying new prints and the other costs of running the films.

“When we all decide we hate each other [the members of Exhumed] and disband we’ll break up that money and we’ll have a hundred bucks each,” said Gervasi jokingly.

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